Alaska Cruise in July – Tips – Outfits

This guide has two sections:

  • 9 ESSENTIAL TIPS
  • JULY OUTFIT AND PACKING GUIDE

If you are only interested in the outfit and packing tips for July, please skip the section with the ten tips and scroll all the way down. However, we highly recommend reading our tips as they will make your cruise 10x better!

Guidebook Tip | Highly Recommended

Whether you have already picked out your cruise or haven’t booked so yet, this book is a must-buy! It provides awesome tips, the differences between the ships, highlights in each port, and so much more.

If you are planning a cruise during a different month, read our Alaska Cruise Outfit Guide for May, June, July, August, and September.

💡 Good to know: The following 9 tips apply to every cruise month, not only July. However, the outfit tips in the second section are tailored specifically for July!

9 ESSENTIAL ALASKA CRUISE TIPS

1.  Have the Essentials in Your Carry-On Bag

It’s crucial to strategically pack a carry-on bag with essential items you’ll need immediately on board. Since checked bags are typically delivered to your cabin later in the afternoon or even post-dinner, having a carry-on filled with necessities is a wise move.

Ensure all crucial items such as medications, travel documents, passports, and cruise tickets are safely stored in this bag. If you have specific dietary needs, consider packing some snacks as well.

While most cruise lines plan formal events from the second night onward, it wouldn’t hurt to include a versatile outfit in your carry-on that could transition from day to night.

An extra-special tip for Alaskan cruises: since daylight hours are significantly extended during the summer, consider packing a sleep mask in your carry-on. It will help you adjust to the ‘midnight sun’ phenomenon and ensure a good night’s sleep.

Properly organizing your carry-on bag ensures you start your journey without any hiccups, keeping the focus on the awe-inspiring landscapes and unique experiences that await you in Alaska.

2. Book Cruise Line AND Independent Excursions

Many of the excursions offered by the cruise line are great, and we recommend booking one of these.

However, you should also book at least one independent one as you will save money and tour with a smaller group. 💡 The ship will discourage you from doing this, as excursions are a big moneymaker for the cruise line. Often, their primary argument is that the ship will wait for their own tours if they return late, but not for independent ones.

However, this is not a valid reason if you a) don’t book a long tour (more than 4 hours) and b) use a provider like GetYourGuide, where you usually have 24-hour penalty-free cancellation.

Must-Do in Juneau: Whale Watching
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This tour is fantastic! And there is one big advantage: You get off your ship and you are right there where the tour starts. The duration is only 3.5 hours, so it’s safe to book it.

Again, the advantages of booking an independent tour, for example via GetYourGuide:

Smaller Groups:

  • Joining a third-party tour often means being in a smaller group, unlike the large numbers that fill cruise line tours.
  • You could find yourself in a group of less than 20 people or even just your own private group.
  • This smaller setting makes it easier to ask questions and customize your day with activities that suit you, like special stops for pictures or activities for kids.
  • You can change the pace to suit your group, making the experience more tailored to what you want to see and do.

Significantly Cheaper/Better Value:

  • Booking directly with tour providers will save you money or offer more value than the same tours offered by cruise lines.
  • While small-group or private tours might initially seem more expensive than cruise ship excursions, they provide greater value by allowing customization and more direct sightseeing time, with less waiting for others.
  • Cost-sharing with a group can make these private tours more affordable per person, enhancing the overall experience without breaking the bank.

Booking an excursion independently while on an Alaska cruise offers personalized experiences, more adventurous activities, unique explorations, and better value for your money.

3. Bring Binoculars(!)

You’ll be surrounded by nature’s beauty throughout your cruise. Thus, a pair of good binoculars will make a huge difference!

When you’re on an Alaska cruise, having binoculars is like holding a magic key that unlocks distant wonders. With them, you can zoom in on the breathtaking details of glaciers, spotting the brilliant blues and intricate patterns that are invisible to the naked eye.

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Wildlife, from majestic eagles soaring in the sky to playful seals lounging on ice floes, comes into clear view, making every sighting more thrilling. Imagine catching the subtle movements of a bear along the shoreline or a whale’s splash in the distance; binoculars bring these moments close, as if nature’s spectacle is unfolding just for you.

So, packing binoculars turns your cruise into an unforgettable adventure, where every glance through the lenses reveals the awe-inspiring beauty and mystery of Alaska’s wild landscapes and creatures.

4. Bring a Seasickness Remedy 

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This advice may seem odd advice, especially for first-timers who’ve never experienced seasickness before, but it’s always better to be prepared than be caught off guard.

Seasickness, or motion sickness, is caused by the constant motion of the ship, which can disrupt your inner ear’s sense of balance. Even if you’ve never felt ill on smaller boats or car trips, a cruise ship’s unique movement might affect you differently. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to nausea, dizziness, and in rare cases, vomiting.

Weather patterns in Alaska can be unpredictable, sometimes causing rougher seas, and you never know how your body might react. Moreover, it’s not just about being on the ship. Excursions, like smaller boat trips to see glaciers or wildlife, can also be a trigger.

If the captain announces that we’re heading into bad weather I immediately take my seasickness medicine and then I’m fine.

By packing seasickness medication, you’re safeguarding your enjoyment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. These remedies come in various forms, from over-the-counter pills like Dramamine to prescription patches, natural remedies like ginger tablets, or even acupressure wristbands.

It’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider on what might work best for you.

5. Research Your Ship Ahead of the Cruise and on Embarkation Day

For us, it usually takes a couple of days until we learn the ins and outs of a new ship. Many passengers I talk to are overwhelmed at first and it takes a while to figure everything out.

I always suggest studying the ship you’re on prior to the cruise and compiling a list on your phone with details. For example which restaurants are specialty and complimentary, and checking if you need to book dining and show appointments.

The more research you can do ahead of the cruise, the less time you will waste within the first days of the cruise.

Embarkation Day: As soon as you board the ship, especially if you embark early, remember your cabin might not be ready yet, so it’s a great time to roam the ship and familiarize yourself!

If you embark on your Alaska cruise around noon, your cabin might not be ready until 2-3 PM, so brace yourself for this.

Occasionally, you might be able to head straight to your cabin upon embarkation, but this isn’t standard. Considering the previous guests would have vacated the cabins only around 8 am, the crew doesn’t have

6. Bring a Water Bottle

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Bringing a reusable water bottle on your Alaska cruise is an excellent idea for several reasons. First, staying hydrated is crucial, especially when partaking in various activities and excursions in different climates. Having a water bottle on hand will ensure you always have easy access to water.

Second, it’s an eco-friendly option that cuts down on the use of disposable plastic bottles, aligning with the sustainable practices that protect the pristine Alaskan environment. Lastly, many modern cruise ships have water refilling stations, so you can conveniently refill your bottle, ensuring a supply of fresh, cold water throughout your journey.

Some say that they only needed a water bottle on the excursion but not on the ship. We don’t agree! Except when heading for dinner or lunch, we always carry one with us.

7. No Need to Pack a Hair Dryer and Towels

Bringing a hair dryer on your Alaska cruise isn’t necessary due to the amenities provided on most modern cruise ships. Cruise ship cabins typically come equipped with a hair dryer for passengers’ use, saving you the hassle of packing one.

Packing your own towels is also not required and here’s why: Cruise lines provide ample towels for their passengers. In your cabin, you’ll find towels for showering, and additional ones are supplied for use at the pool or when going ashore for the beach or water-based excursions.

Thus, bringing your own hair dryer or towels would merely consume precious luggage space and add unnecessary weight to your baggage.

8. Essential Tips for Embarkation Day

Embarkation day on a cruise is the first day of your voyage when everyone boards the ship. It’s a day full of anticipation and excitement, as you check in, explore the ship’s amenities, and settle into your cabin, ready to start your cruising adventure.

Embarkation Day Tip 1: Allocate Enough Time

Consider reaching the port a day earlier if possible. Traveling to the port on embarkation day can be done, but it tends to be stressful.

I have personally traveled to ports and boarded a ship on the same day, a scenario I wouldn’t recommend, but under certain circumstances, it can be fine.

However, if you do have a choice, I suggest arriving at the port the night before you embark on your Alaska cruise. The last thing you’d want is to kick-start your journey with stress.

Living within a few hours of the port might eliminate the need for this, but do ensure you have sufficient time to make the journey.

Embarkation Day Tip 2: Expect a Waiting Line

It’s undoubtedly important to arm yourself with patience for an Alaska cruise.

Embarkation can resemble the process at an airport, so expect to wait in line for check-in or security.

Tip: Maintain no expectations, stay prepared, and relax. It’s vacation time.

Embarkation Day Tip 3: Prepare to Undergo Security Checks

The first time we went on an Alaska cruise, we were surprised that the ship security is almost the same as in an airport. Be prepared that your luggage and your body will be scanned.

Upon arriving at the port, you’ll have to pass through security. Cruise lines scan for any potentially dangerous items or prohibited articles.

The policy regarding carrying alcohol onboard is diverse and complicated. While some cruise lines permit a certain quantity of alcohol, others forbid it entirely.

Embarkation Day Tip 4: Choose The Main Restaurant

Very few people are aware of this great tip:

Upon embarkation, most people head for the buffet or the pool, both of which can get quite crowded.

On many cruises, the main dining room also opens for lunch, allowing you to start your cruise in a more relaxed manner.

9. Be Early for Dinner and Lunch

This is one of your favorite tips and tricks.

On our Alaska cruises, we are typically the first to arrive for lunch and dinner. This resulted in our having the pick of the seats and often being early enough to be stationed by a window.

For panoramic views while dining, it’s really worth considering an early mealtime. That means we can enjoy excellent views and attentive service while avoiding crowded dining areas.

We found the buffet to be an excellent choice for breakfast, while we opted for seated restaurants for lunch and dinner. The buffet on our Alaska cruises was never packed during breakfast, and they offered a good variety of food.

The buffet became crowded during lunch and dinner, and it was far more peaceful to sit at our dedicated table and have the meal served to us. If you do choose the buffet, it’s a good idea to secure an unoccupied table first, before proceeding to collect your food. It makes for a smoother experience than juggling full plates while seeking a table.

 

JULY OUTFIT AND PACKING GUIDE

Prepare for Alaska’s unique climate and outdoor activities before taking an Alaskan cruise in July. The right clothes and accessories are essential to keep you comfortable. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the unpredictability of Alaska’s weather during this month.

Many first-time passengers underestimate how cold Alaska can be on a cruise during certain times, even in July.

💡 Make sure to check out our complete packing list table for July in the middle of this article.

If you are planning a cruise during a different month, read our Alaska Cruise Outfit Guide for May, June, July, August, and September.

Outfits | Packing List Overview

On an Alaska cruise in July, layered outfits are required. You wear warm waterproof outer layers, middle layers like a sweater or a hoodie, additional light layers like long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirts, and long underwear. Additionally, pack jeans, comfortable shoes, a hat, sunglasses, and an umbrella.

Essential Outfits 

Hubbard Glacier (Juneau): When approaching glaciers it gets cold on the deck, regardless of the month. Everybody is wearing something warm.

First, let’s give you an overview of what you should bring on your cruise in July, as well as other summer months.

You wear layers and waterproof or water-resistant clothing items. Outfits like fleece jackets, sweaters, hoodies, and thermal layers keep you warm on colder days, for example, when approaching a glacier or in the morning. On warm summer days, t-shirts and pants or jeans are appropriate.

Layers

You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you don’t like the weather here, just wait five minutes.” Well, they were talking about Alaska!

Alaska’s weather can change quickly, so be prepared. As the temperature fluctuates, layering lets you adjust your comfort.

Most first-time passengers make the mistake of not packing enough layers. Even in July layering is crucial as it can get chilly.

Wear lightweight long underwear or leggings. Depending on the time, insulate with a fleece or sweater, then cover with a rain jacket. This combination will keep you warm and dry.

Women’s Outer Layer
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Good to know: Every port sells fleece-lined, waterproof jackets in case you didn’t bring warm enough outer layers. These also make great souvenirs as they are usually reasonably priced.

Every time we went on a cruise, we were glad to have layers of clothing, as we could easily remove or add layers as needed when temps changed.

Women’s Outer Layer Lightweight Alternative Tips
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For the summer months: If you pack warm enough middle layers (fleece jacket/hoodies) and base layers (t-shirts, long sleeves), you may use a more lightweight outer layer, like a raincoat, instead of a warm jacket (see above).

💡 Especially during July and August, you can skip the heavy winter jacket.

Women’s Middle Layer Tips
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Fleece layers are essential for us, we love them on Alaska cruises. We always bring a fleece zip-up jacket and a zip-up hoodie.

Layering Example 1
  1. Light Raincoat (Amazon Link)
  2. Zip-up fleece jacket (Amazon Link)
  3. Light Sweatshirt
  4. T-shirt
Layering Example 2: Summer Months
  1. Fleece-Lined Hooded Rain Jacket (Amazon Link)
  2. Light Sweatshirt
  3. T-shirt

This is our favorite layering method for any Alaska cruise. The fleece-lined rain jacket keeps you warm and dry. The two base layers provide additional warmth and are often sufficient when the outer layer is removed.

💡 Sometimes, we bring a warm winter jacket in the summer months. However, most times, and for most people, our layering methods #1 and #2 keep you warm enough in the summertime.

Men’s Outer Layer/Jacket

On cooler days, we were thankful for our warm base layers and/or warm waterproof/water-resistant jackets, and on warmer days, we were able to shed layers and feel comfortable.

We also found that comfortable and sturdy walking shoes were a must for the many excursions we participated in, from hiking to sightseeing.

Glacier Viewing

Keep in mind that it gets particularly cold when the ship gets close to a glacier. The viewing experience from the deck is just amazing, but the winds off the ice make the outside temp wintry cold sometimes. A warm jacket is a good idea for this experience.

Rain Gear

Regardless of the month, it’s essential that you pack rain gear for your Alaska cruise. One of the mistakes many passengers make is not being prepared for rain during the cruise season. You will likely encounter rain in at least one of your ports or on a cruising day.

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While you might experience heat waves during the summer, and no to little rain, you may also get rain on most days during the summertime.

It’s even better to bring a jacket which is waterproof and not only water-resistant.

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However, a very good water-resistant jacket can do its job as well! Usually, we bring a water-resistant puffer jacket. Additionally, pack water-resistant or waterproof boots and a compact travel umbrella.

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Many Alaska cruise excursions involve uneven terrain, so comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots are important. However, we never needed hiking shoes.

Sneakers/trainers, sandals, boat shoes, and other casual footwear are appropriate for onboard activities.

💡 Tip: The best thing you can do is bring comfortable, waterproof sneakers that are sturdy enough (see our tips above from Amazon). You can use these onboard and during excursions, saving you packing space!

Water-Resistant Pants?

Most of the time, you are fine with a good waterproof jacket. Up until last year, we have never felt the need for any special type of waterproof pants or shoes. If it was mild or moderate rain, I typically still wore my jeans unless I felt I was going to get drenched.

That’s why we didn’t add special pants to the packing lists in this article.

However, we bought these, and now we love them on every cruise:

They are super awesome and keep you warm and dry all the time.  So, instead of a second pair of standard pants, we pack a pair of these water-resistant ones for cooler days with heavier rain.

Leggings?
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We sometimes wear leggings under jeans, rain pants, and hiking pants, so in case it gets hot, we can take the pants off and just wear leggings. The extra layer is great when it’s cold.

However, many visitors say they just wear jeans and have never needed more while some passengers bring silk underwear (men and women) or cuddle duds.

Dress for Dinner

Most cruise lines do not require dinner attire and you can wear jeans and a t-shirt. However, some cruise lines have formal nights in the main dining room, so, pack cocktail dresses or slacks and a jacket.

That said, guests on Alaskan cruises typically don’t care too much about what they wear to dinner. Thus, we usually pack a nice outfit for dinner and shows. If you’re not a formal night person, don’t sweat it. Just head to the buffet or another restaurant on board.

For dinner, ladies can bring nice blouses and skirts or pants, dresses, or jumpsuits. Jumpsuits are warm, comfortable, and easy to style for dinner.

Swimsuit and Cover-up

Alaska’s waters are cold and not known for their beach breaks, but some cruise ships have heated pools and hot tubs. For swimming, pack your favorite swimsuit, flip flops, of course, and cover-up. You can check out big fluffy pool towels in the same area as the pool.

Good to know: Towels are being provided!

Accessories

Bring a hat, gloves, and scarf along with warm layered clothing. Even on cloudy days, sunglasses and sunscreen are necessary. And don’t forget the umbrella – rain can pop up anytime.

Backpack

Bring a backpack to carry all your layers on excursions as you take them off and put them back on.

Packing List Table for July

Our friend Jessica Vannasdall just came back from her seven-day Alaska cruise. She was so kind and provided us with her awesome packing list. She said, that she wore everything from the list, some things more than once!

Pants
2 jeans Only needed 1 dark wash jeans – can use on days at sea, excursions, or with a nice top and shoes for dinner
1 black Jeans Yes – Perfect for dinners
Waterproof pants Probably didn’t need these, but was nice when we went on excursions.
3 leggings (one lined) Probably only needed two – the fleece lined were great.
Long Underwear I used these almost every day, but I’m from LA so I get cold easily!
Shorts It was fun to wear them on the deck on a sunny day.
Shirts
3 Short-sleeved T-shirts Needed only two – can layer under a chambray shirt or under sweaters, etc.
2 thin sweaters for dinner or ship Used these for dinners
2 long sleeved Ts(layering) Used these as layers – cheap – Old Navy – solid
1 Zip-up fleece Didn’t wear this – used a vest or my hoodie instead
1 long-sleeved tunic Used for days at sea/dinner or excursions
1 chambray button up Used as a layering piece
1 hoodie YES! Wore it a lot. Tip: Fleece Full-Zip Hoodie on Amazon
Dress
Black Hardly anyone got super dressed up. A lot wore mid-length A-line dresses – most wore slacks and a nice shirt for dinners. For the formal nights, many wore shirts with sparkles or details like lace, etc. I loved getting dressed up and got a beautiful long black dress from Amazon that I paired with sparkly flip-flops.
Black jumpsuit It was great for a formal night.
Black/white scarf Didn’t wear it.
Shoes
Sneakers A must – could be your only shoes.
Hiking Shoes We did short easy hikes. I could have probably used my sneakers, but if they got wet I would have been out of luck. So if you have them, bring them. If you can, wear them on the plane to save room in your luggage.
Black dress shoes I brought black sandals that I could wear with my formal dress but also with my jeans.
Fancy flip flops Yes – multipurpose.
Outdoor
Puffy jacket Thin – but with a hood. Wore this on all excursions. This was a must. It was water resistant, which helped.

💡 Our tip: Amazon Water-Resistant Puffer Jacket

Puffy vest I loved having a vest and I wore it both as a layer under my jacket and as part of an outfit on days at sea, walking the deck, etc.

💡 Puffy Vest Tip: Quilted Gilet | Amazon

1 hat – beanie/outdoor I had a winter hat and a beanie. I’m always cold so I wore the beanie inside on the ship often.
Gloves I only needed/used thin gloves. No one else in my family used gloves.
Baseball cap Yes!!! Helped with hair control in windy conditions.
Other
PJs Just one to lounge in.
Underwear Of course.
Socks I wish I had more regular socks and less wool socks.
Wool socks The wool socks were hot and bulky. Only needed them for one excursion.
Bras Yes.
Swimsuit It was nice to have the option.

 

More Packing Tips and July Weather

On an Alaska cruise, you’ll visit ports in Alaska’s inside passage, which is dense with rainforests. It has a different and more temperate climate than mainland Alaska.

But no matter where you go, Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable. If you take a cruise that includes a land tour to Anchorage, Denali, or Fairbanks, you may find it’s warmer and drier than on the ship, as high as 85°F. So, don’t forget the t-shirt and tank top layer.

July is one of the warmest months in Alaska, so the weather is quite pleasant. Daytime temperatures can range from the 60s to the low 70s Fahrenheit (16-22 degrees Celsius), but they can reach into the 80s Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) in some areas.

Nights still have brisk temperatures in the 40s Fahrenheit (4-9 degrees Celsius). The weather is typically dry and sunny in July, but there can be occasional rain or fog. Even during this warmer summer month, a waterproof jacket and warm layers are important.

Outfit and packing tips for July:

  • Waterproof insulated outer layer like a medium puffer coat
  • Middle layer like a sweater, hoodie, fleece/waterproof jacket/vest
  • Light layers like long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirts, long underwear or leggings
  • Slacks or jeans, optional shorts
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Hat, scarf, gloves if you get cold easily
  • Swimsuit (for pool and hot tub)
  • Binoculars (for nature watching)
  • Umbrella

Basic Packing List

Clothing

  • Waterproof insulated outer layer like a light or medium puffer coat
  • Middle layer like a sweater, hoodie, fleece/waterproof jacket/vest
  • Light layers like long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirts, long underwear or leggings
  • Dressier outfits for dinner (optional)
  • Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots; mud boots for wetter months
  • Comfortable shoes for onboard activities
  • Swimsuit, cover-up, and sandals or flip flops to use on board
  • Hat, gloves, and scarf for May or September cruises
  • Brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Shorts (optional) for warm days
  • Single-use handwarmers if you get cold easily

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash or soap
  • Moisturizer and sunscreen
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup and skincare products
  • Prescription medication
  • Over-the-counter medications (expensive to buy on board)

Electronics

  • Camera or smartphone with a good camera
  • Chargers for all electronics
  • Portable charger or power bank
  • Travel adapter
  • Cruise-compliant power strip (not surge protector)

Other Items:

  • Passport
  • Travel-sized laundry detergent
  • Travel-sized first aid kit
  • Binoculars
  • Travel umbrella
  • Pre-booked port excursions
  • Bathroom scent spray
  • Travel clock (many ships don’t have phone chargers near the bed)
  • Nightlight for bathroom
  • Magnetic hooks for the wall to hold items and papers

One of our favorite activities on the cruises is always whale watching. We were able to see humpback whales breaching and splashing in the water, and it was an unforgettable experience. Orcas are also common in the Pacific Northwest, so you have a good chance to see them nearby.

We were glad we brought binoculars to get a closer look at the wildlife and scenery. Many people think they don’t need binoculars. That’s a big mistake!

Overall, our Alaskan cruises were a fantastic experience every time, and we felt well-prepared with our packing list and outfit choices. By following these tips and bringing the right items, you can enjoy your Alaskan cruise to the fullest and create lasting memories.

In conclusion, packing for an Alaskan cruise requires careful consideration of the weather, activities, and dress codes. By packing layers of warm and waterproof clothing, sturdy walking shoes, and dressier outfits for special events, you can be prepared for any situation.

Don’t forget to bring important accessories, such as a swimsuit, hat, gloves, and sunscreen, and other necessary items like toiletries and electronics.

 

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